Private citizens can sue the Federal Election Commission over its decision not to require certain groups to disclose their election campaign spending, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.
But the 6-3 decision spared, at least for now, a pro-Israel lobbying group from telling how much money it contributed to political candidates' election campaigns.Writing for the court, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the commission should determine under its new rules whether expenditures made by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee were "membership communications" that would not have to be reported to the federal agency.
That left undecided the major issue the justices had under study: Whether AIPAC should be considered a political committee subject to federal campaign regulations on spending and reporting.
In other action, the court:
- Agreed to use the government's effort to deport a group of Palestinians to clarify a 1996 immigration law's limits on court review of such cases. The justices said they will hear the government's contention that lower courts lacked authority to hear the case.
- Ruled that people cannot be prosecuted on federal money-laundering charges in one state if the transactions occurred entirely in another state. The unanimous ruling rejected the Clinton administration's effort to reinstate charges in Missouri against a woman accused of using a Florida bank to launder the proceeds of illegal cocaine sales.
- Refused to shield two California policemen from a lawsuit seeking to hold them legally responsible for the 1994 death of a man they encountered after responding to a 911 call.
- Refused to require a Massachusetts high school's student newspaper and yearbook to run advertisements promoting sexual abstinence. The court, without comment, turned away arguments by the man who submitted the ads that the publications' refusal to run them amounted to government action violating his free-speech rights.